Many women expected to retire at 60 and were dismayed to find out when they were 58 or 59 that they had to wait another six years for their pension. At the well-attended meeting in Wooler, Berwick MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan heard from women whose SPA has been delayed by up to six years, in many cases causing them financial hardship and distress.
One woman told how she gave up work last year to care for her elderly father, who is 87 and unable to look after himself. She had assumed she would be in receipt of her pension last July when she turned 60 and would be able to afford to do this. When she found out that she would not receive her pension until she was 66 and she had already given up her job, it was an enormous shock. She had to sell her home in order to be able to look after her father and is now living off the proceeds of the sale.
It is estimated that around 500,000 women born in the 1950s are affected nationally and a campaign group, Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI), has been set up to try to secure a better deal for the affected women. Their petition to the Government - https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/110776 - has achieved more than 147,000 signatures nationally and 301 in the Berwick constituency. The petition led to the issue being debated in Parliament last week.
The group now plans to spread the word about the pension changes by canvassing local women at supermarkets and other venues and hopes to bring about a change to a fairer system of equalising men’s and women’s pension ages so that this group of women are not unfairly disadvantaged.
Susan Beevers, a founding member of the group, said: "Ensure you know about the changes to your state pension age and pension payment and support the WASPI campaign by signing the petition and contacting our MP to tell them how this will impact. Supporting the Campaign is by far the most effective way of getting the issues across to the decision makers and to securing fair transitional arrangements."
Mrs Trevelyan said: "I am pleased we now have a local group to provide a focus for women in Northumberland who have been affected by these changes. I will do all I can to support them and it was inspiring to meet some of them on Sunday and to hear their stories. I would encourage anyone who has been affected to get in touch – campaigns are always stronger with one, clear voice and moral support from others in the same position."